Highly Oxidized Multifunctional Organic Compounds Observed in Tropospheric Particles: A Field and Laboratory Study

Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Jul 7;49(13):7754-61. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b00885. Epub 2015 Jun 9.


Very recent studies have reported the existence of highly oxidized multifunctional organic compounds (HOMs) with O/C ratios greater than 0.7. Because of their low vapor pressure, these compounds are often referred as extremely low-volatile organic compounds (ELVOCs), and thus, they are able to contribute significantly to organic mass in tropospheric particles. While HOMs have been successfully detected in the gas phase, their fate after uptake into particles remains unclear to date. Hence, the present study was designed to detect HOMs and related oxidation products in the particle phase and, thus, to shed light on their fate after phase transfer. To this end, aerosol chamber investigations of α-pinene ozonolysis were conducted under near environmental precursor concentrations (2.4 ppb) in a continuous flow reactor. The chemical characterization shows three classes of particle constituents: (1) intact HOMs that contain a carbonyl group, (2) particle-phase decomposition products, and (3) highly oxidized organosulfates (suggested to be addressed as HOOS). Besides chamber studies, HOM formation was also investigated during a measurement campaign conducted in summer 2013 at the TROPOS research station Melpitz. During this field campaign, gas-phase HOM formation was found to be correlated with an increase in the oxidation state of the organic aerosol.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols / chemistry
  • Atmosphere / analysis
  • Atmosphere / chemistry*
  • Bicyclic Monoterpenes
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Monoterpenes / chemistry*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Ozone / chemistry
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis*
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / chemistry


  • Aerosols
  • Bicyclic Monoterpenes
  • Monoterpenes
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Ozone
  • alpha-pinene